Senate pickleball caucus leaves politics off the court

A bipartisan group of senators are setting politics aside weekly to join the fastest growing sport in the United States — pickleball — aiming to improve communication and build relations.

Game initiation: Sens. Thom Tillis, Shelley Moore Capito, and Joni Ernst co-chair the new Senate pickleball caucus which meets weekly to play the sport.
* Tillis believes that the shared experience can improve treatment of others and enhance communication.

Pickleball features: This increasingly popular sport combines elements of ping pong, badminton, and tennis, and extends from high school gym classes and retirement communities to a multimillion-dollar professional league endorsed by celebrities like LeBron James and Drake.

Senate Caucus participation: Senators including Tillis, Capito and Ernst participate in weekly pickleball games, finding it a convenient way to connect, unwind, and even trash talk in a friendly competition.

Sport expansion: Being the fastest-growing sport, pickleball now has an estimated 48 million regular American players.
* The sport’s founder, Steve Kuhn, seeks federal funding to expand pickleball into more urban areas and make it accessible to all ages.

Legislative benefits: While the sport provides casual fun, senators like Capito suggest that it also helps build relationship bridges that transcend party affiliations, leading to improved communication in tense or difficult legislative periods.

View original article on NPR

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